i74 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
length initiate me into the secrets of the night that is holy to the goddess. But he, being a man of steadfast character and famous for all his observation of the strict laws of the faith, with kindly and gentle words, such as parents use to check the precocious desires of their children, put off my insistence and soothed the great trouble of my spirit by holding forth consolatory hope of greater bliss. For he said that the day of each man's initiation was fixed by the ordinance of the goddess, and that the priest destined for her service was likewise chosen by her providence.
"He bade me, like others, await all these ordinances with reverent patience, warning me that it was my duty to beware with all my soul of over-eagerness and petulance, to avoid both these faults, and neither to delay when summoned nor to hasten unbidden.
"For the gates of hdl and the power of life are in the hands of the goddess, and the very act of dedication is regarded as a voluntary death and an imperilling of life, inasmuch as the goddess is wont to select those whose term of life is near its close and who stand on the threshold of the night, and are moreover men to whom the mighty Mysteries of the goddess may safely be committed. These men the goddess by her providence brings to new birth and places once more at the start of a new race of life. Therefore thou too must await the command of heaven.
"Nor did the saving grace of the great goddess play me false, or torture me by long deferment, but in the dark of night, in commands wherein was no darkness, she clearly warned me that the day of my long desire was come, whereon she would grant the fulfilment of my most earnest prayers.
"By these and other gracious admonitions the supreme goddess gladdened my spirit, so that ere yet it was dear day I shook sleep from off me and hastened straightway to the priest's lodging. I met him even as he came forth from his bedchamber and saluted him. I had resolved to demand with yet greater persistence than my wont that I should be appointed to the service of the mysteries as being now my due. But he, as soon as he beheld me, anticipated me and said: 'Lucius, happy and blessed art thou, whom the august deity deigns to favour with such goodwill.
** *3The day so long besought by thine unwearied prayers is come, on which by the divine commands of the goddess of